There are situations where it potentially fails -- for example, in cave deposits.
As an example of how they are used, radiometric dates from geologically simple, fossiliferous Cretaceous rocks in western North America are compared to the geological time scale.
To get to that point, there is also a historical discussion and description of non-radiometric dating methods.
his document discusses the way radiometric dating and stratigraphic principles are used to establish the conventional geological time scale.
It is not about the theory behind radiometric dating methods, it is about their , and it therefore assumes the reader has some familiarity with the technique already (refer to "Other Sources" for more information).
This orientation is not an assumption, because in virtually all situations, it is also possible to determine the original "way up" in the stratigraphic succession from "way up indicators".